What is Nordic City Stories?

In 2018 Nordic City Network launched the initiative Nordic City Lab focusing on exploring and testing new ways of working, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and co-creation. With the overall aim to support sustainable, innovative and competitive cities across the Nordic region, collaboration and co-creation has been identified as a key parameter to succeed.


Nordic City Lab continues a longtime interest in capturing trends and exploring how different partners can contribute to and shape the development of the Nordic cities and city regions – whether these partnerships involve the research sector, the private sector, civil society or others. Previous initiatives include establishing a network of political leaders to strengthen the links between policy and planning and a series of masterclasses targeted at identifying and understanding new emergent urban communities as a way to build stronger ties to the civil society.


The purpose of the Nordic City Lab has been to apply, test and further develop the learnings and insights gained throughout these past initiatives. The Nordic City Lab has had two parallel tracks – one track focusing on the local process in each of the member cities working on their local story and the other track centered around a series of local labs during which a number of the member cities have invited their Nordic colleagues to take part in a 1,5 day of discussing and collaborating on different aspects and challenges of what it takes to implement new ways of working. These include:


  • Future scenarios – how to understand and work with future challenges (UrbanLab Malmö 2018)
  • The art of city making – the competencies needed to engage in meaningful partnerships (City Lab Aalborg 2018)
  • Strategic urban governance – managing the relationship between private developers, politicians and planners (City Lab Lillestrøm 2018)
  • Developing the city’s DNA with new tools for social sustainability (City Lab Umeå 2019)
  • Using the lab as a planning method for co-creation in the development of the city centre (City Lab Fredericia 2019 – Summary in Swedish/Danish)
  • Bridging the physical and digital in the process of co-creating innovation districts (City Lab Trondheim 2020 – Summary in Swedish/Norwegian)


Based on this 2-years initiative, the member cities have made a local story that in one way or the other exemplifies the different needs and dilemmas related to ‘new ways of working’.


These stories are all different in their form and content, but each of them represents an important local challenge or opportunity.


In the following weeks, leading up to the Nordic City Stories conference, these stories will be shared on this website. We hope that they will inspire and help to raise pertinent issues to consider and discuss. The stories are by no means conclusions – they are invitations for an ongoing dialogue and test of new actions to support the further development of the Nordic cities as sustainable, innovative and competitive places for people and organizations to thrive!


Louise Vogel Kielgast, Nordic City Network’s Advisory Board


A sneak preview on 4 local city stories



What will it take for us to develop Esbjerg into a city with metropolitan qualities? The issue is at the top of the developmental agenda in Esbjerg.



This video showcases the process of planning the new city district “Karlamagnusarbreyt” in Tórshavn.





This video shows the development of Finnslätten, an industrial area in Västerås. The vision is to create a new multifunctional part of Västerås for future companies and work capacity. 





 The film describes the district dialogue and how it is part of Umeå municipality’s work with social sustainability. (Language: Swedish)



Have you not yet signed up for the Nordic City Stories conference on November 24th? Time to do so!